First I’d like to say well done to the current council for the Fanshawe/Kingsmill deal going through, the fact Councillor Denise Brown took the time to inform herself on the deal and used facts not ideology to make a decision gives me hope for London’s future. Last night’s meeting should not be remembered for the Fanshawe project but for something far more important to London’s future, the approval of an Integrity Commissioner. London on so many fronts is last or nearly last in adopting good ideas or seeing past the next fiscal period.
The trigger for this blog post was this article in the Guardian about Chattanooga’s Gig. Although smaller than London there are similarities between the two cities. Both have been rail hubs, seen manufacturing leave, and watched the downtown die. The difference is where London is waiting for the fix to come from outside or reusing the ideas that has lead London to the current situation, Chattanooga (which is fun to say) has created one gigabyte per second internet as a public utility. As the article says waiting for the corporate providers to get that level of service would leave Chattanooga behind. London should make an effort to upgrade the city’s electrical grid to be smarter and use the same technology to provide people highspeed, lower cost internet access.
Today’s (September 3) Aislin cartoon not only applies to Montreal but also to London. While a smarter electrical grid perhaps London could also create a smarter traffic/transit grid and connect it to a mobile app or website. It would be interesting to discover how much productivity is lost in London because of the traffic and transit problems. Part of the corrective process could be point to point time movement studies to connect the sprawled parts of the city by all available means. Some of the work has already been done for the London Plan but more innovative transportation solutions and ideas need to be studied. Here is a strange idea from Belgium to reduce speeding.
Something the next council will need to do is pay attention to what is happening outside the London bubble and to make sure the city has contingencies for what could come or happen here. Even the relativity far sighted London plan makes the traditional London assumption cars are the primary mode of transportation and that parking will be needed throughout the city. This leads to a few questions. What happens to those parking lots and garages when they sit empty most of the time? What is the plan for gas prices reaching four dollars a litre, or current events drag Canada into a war where fuel rationing is required? What happens if a train of crude oil explodes within city limits? How does London prevent the spread of a disease like Ebola, or the recruitment of London’s vulnerable youth by terrorists or organized crime?
The last suggestion is that the new council live within the city’s means and never factor Federal or Provincial funding into a project until the cheques clear. In fact refuse Federal funding as the money would be better spent in adding to Canada’s air-defences, diplomatic service, intelligence gathering, health research and monitoring, trade deal making, and enforcing Transport Canada regulations. With Russia increasingly violating their neighbours’ airspace, and for those who failed geography that includes Canada, it would be wise for the next council to insist on better air defences from Ottawa instead of a blank cheque to pour more concrete we don’t need. Part of such a request could include 420 Snowy Owl Squadron (City of London) being rebadged from a depot squadron to a reserve fighter squadron with the latest Hawk fighter/trainer. Five decades ago it required 600+ fighter planes to protect Canadian territory, each of which were more capable than the proposed F-35s.
Holly Painter is looking for funding partners to help with a youth arts engagement program. If anyone can connect her with that let her know please.